Thread: Fad Diets
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Old 07-02-2010, 08:09 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 576

Thanks for the vote of confidence rpmcduff. I'm trying my best to keep the discussion civil.


The Inuit population studied by Viljalmhur Steffanson during the early part of the 20th century was a population in their prime. Members routinely reached their 70s and 80s. This was before a western diet was introduced and their diet consisted mainly of animal fat and organ meat, and kelp and ground nuts when they could be found. Very low carbs combined with high levels of saturated fat (which get transformed into strongly anti-inflammatory compounds within the body) meant strikingly low occurrences of heart disease and cancers. The overweight issues are an adaptation to the cold. More fat means more insulation, but as long as this is subcutaneous fat instead of visceral fat, it poses no health risk.

Fast forward to the 1980s, where modern native Alaskan Inuits have had their traditional diets replaced in part with coffee, sugar, white bread, margarine, and soft drinks. Now heart disease and cancer have been brought to levels similar to the rest of America, while the traditional killers of native Inuit continue to bring down the average life expectancy: high infant mortality, limited access to modern medicine, and high rates of suicide due to the social isolation that comes with being a native American in this country. Hardly dietary factors.

The plant-based diet I am referring to is the USDA food pyramid. Perhaps that isn't the plant-based diet you envision, but when the first two levels of the pyramid are grains, fruits, and vegetables, it's hard to think of what else to call it. During the period of time the food pyramid has been in use, American waists have expanded and overall health has deteriorated.

Show me the domination of athletes on plant-based diets. The best football players grow up on meat and potatoes. As do elite athletes in many other sports.

The China Study is a flawed attempt to turn a series of correlations into a cause-effect argument. It is based on epidemiological data that can't be used to definitively prove anything. If one were to look at the scientific paper from which the book was derived, many of the correlations themselves are statistically insignificant. At best, the study can be used to establish a broad framework from which to do further randomized and controlled studies, but in and of itself it says.... nothing.

Dr. Campbell's rants against the "dangers" of protein come from studies on rodents, in which he fed them irresponsible amounts of unnaturally isolated casein protein from milk. Aside from the fact that rodent metabolism and physiological responses are completely different from our own, there is no way we could eat a relatively proportionate amount of protein, nor could we eat that amount of isolated casein which supposedly causes tumors in rats. Casein is generally found alongside whey protein in milk, which, in fact, suppresses tumor formation.

I realize that milk is not entirely hormone free. I know that cows produce their own hormones and these are present in the milk. However, it's the artificial hormones that concern me. Recombinant hormones are not natural and can trigger severe immune reactions in those that are sensitive to them. In a similar vein, it's the structure of the gluten protein and starches in the primordial einkorn variety of wheat that causes it to have a nearly 30% less severe blood glucose spike and associated insulin response than unnaturally selected modern varieties of wheat.

Finally, I don't promote any commercial diet. Don't belittle my lifestyle by assuming I'm pushing something, then calling me out when I say something that conflicts with it. I personally eat 80% paleo/primal. I'll eat dairy/eggs and meat, but most of what I eat is green vegetables. I stay away from all grain products, and if I'm all worn out from a day of heavy lifting, I'll carb load with sweet potatoes or carrots. I advocate people finding what works for them, and I don't believe that anyone should have to adhere to complex rules and charts or feel like they're depriving themselves in the context of eating "healthy."

I highly recommend you read "The Vegetarian Myth" by Lierre Kieth; "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes; and "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. For good measure, read "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" by Robert Sapolsky.

My rules:
1) eat real food - more vegetables, moderate meat, moderate fruits, less grains, less sugar, less vegetable oils.
2) exercise - moderate intensity cardio, sprinting, heavy lifting, dedicated stretching and mobility.
3) live - relax, de-stress, meditate.

Disclaimer: I'm not professionally qualified to make any formal recommendations. I've just done my homework and I'm my own guinea pig. All of my data, unless otherwise cited, comes from a sample size of n=1 (me).
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